Psychologists and counselors tend to use different therapeutic approaches that suit a particular problem. However, one of the most commonly used methods that can be useful in treating a number of different disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy focuses on transforming problematic and unhealthy thoughts and behaviors into something more positive.
Even though treatment for specific mental illnesses can differ depending on the symptoms and the patient’s individual problems, cognitive behavioral therapy is generally very effective for many disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a category of psychotherapy is often used for problems like anxiety disorders, bulimia, insomnia, personality disorders, stress management, depression and other issues. CBT can be delivered through different methods based on the person’s background and the environment the person lives in.
The common goal of CBT is to change problematic behaviors that are causing problems for the patient. Analyzing the negative thoughts that they have and finding ways to change them can help minimize mental health symptoms in the long term. Cognitive behavioral therapy is not just a temporary solution, it creates more positive internal beliefs that in turn can improve behavior.
Strategies of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The goal behind CBT is helping people change the thoughts, feelings and actions that do not serve them. Thoughts, feelings and behaviors are all closely related and can affect one another in an infinite loop. Negative thoughts can lead to negative feelings which causes problematic behaviors which can cause more negative thoughts. Reframing your thinking can help reframe all three of these and they will influence one another in a positive way.
The main strategy of cognitive behavioral therapy is to take a direct approach at generating change. Other methods like psychoanalysis are created to promote more emotional awareness and understanding of the self rather than a proactive approach to create changes. Even though psychoanalysis can also improve functioning, CBT zeroes in on specific behaviors and works to minimize negative habits.
What CBT offers for patients is a set of coping strategies that help them handle their thinking and emotions so that they don’t become overwhelming or out of control. The tactics that patients learn can be used in everyday situations to prevent them from becoming upset, anxious or depressed because of their negative thoughts. CBT helps people manage the patterns of thought that are creating problems for them.
What Happens During CBT Sessions
For someone who is receiving CBT therapy, their session will reflect their own specific problems they need to work on. The first step however, will be for the therapist and patient to try to identify their most problematic thinking. They might have negative thinking patterns having to do with their self-image or distort the details of events to make them seem more negative than they are.
Each individual may have a different type of thinking pattern that relates to their specific problem such as overgeneralizing, making negative assumptions, exaggerating or jumping to conclusions about things. This kind of problematic thinking can lead to many beliefs that aren’t based in reality and can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. The therapist will help them learn to identify when this type of thinking is happening so that they are more aware of it.
Once the patient understands the type of thinking that they are dealing with, they can learn to replace those patterns with more helpful ways of thinking about the problem. Patients can start to swap out their negative thoughts for more constructive ones that help them handle situations that trigger difficult feelings. During the session, the patient and therapist may act out a triggering situation and work on interpreting it differently.
The Effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
As a person learns CBT strategies from their therapist they will also be given homework to put what they’ve learned into practice. The real world application of this type of therapy is what makes it the most useful for healing from a mental illness. Patients must face their triggers in their normal life and try to manage the thoughts and feelings that come up without getting stuck in a negative cycle.
Patients will start to feel better as they manage to change some of the negative thoughts that are causing them to feel depressed or worried. They will gain confidence as they learn how to cope with situations that they believed they couldn’t handle in the past. With the support of their therapist they will be able to reduce many of their symptoms and lead healthier lives.
Cognitive behavioral therapy may not be the only solution for everyone but it has proven to be effective for a wide range of different disorders. For those looking for lasting changes in their negative patterns they can search for a therapist that practices cognitive behavioral therapy in their area.